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How Do Solopreneurs Deal with Sick Time? No Paid Time Off (PTO)?

How Do Solopreneurs Deal with Sick Time? No Paid Time Off (PTO)?

I work for myself, which some of us call being a “solopreneur.” In a way that word sounds so lonely, as if everything is on your own shoulders. No employer and no employees to rely on. Some people think that means there’s no help, and there’s no room to be sick or a take time off.

Well, I’m here to contradict those stereotypes:

  1. There IS Support.
    You better let in help or your business won’t make it. Seriously, every self-employed person who is making it has people behind the scenes who are helping in significant ways. It might be a spouse, an accountant, a helpful friend, colleagues to bounce things off of, and/or a business coach. (Connection that works for introverts and HSPs.)
  2. There IS Sick Time.
    Solopreneurs DO have sick time available, if they are willing to send themselves home. When you have a sustainable business model, it allows for sick time as part of the design, with no financial loss. It can be built into your prices and your systems.

How I Allowed Time Off and Support

As I sit here on the tail end of this very determined sniffly cold, I’ll tell you my real life story of taking time off as a solopreneur.

A week ago, I caught the killer cold that was going around. I had been watching someone else keep going to work despite feeling sick and she continued to get worse. So when I had the earliest signs of that same cold, I decided I would do it differently this time.

The day I started feeling under the weather, I immediately cancelled the next day’s appointments and stayed home to rest in order to let my body do the necessary healing. I hate cancelling! But I knew it could mean more cancellations if I didn’t rest.

I could feel the signal in my body to rest, and I chose to listen! (Psst, self-care is the first job requirement for self-employment.) I haven’t always been good at this, for sure. So this felt like progress.

The most interesting thing happened. Or didn’t happen. No one complained. Reschedulings were easy. And I felt OK about it! And I even stayed in good spirits throughout feeling sick, because for once, I wasn’t resisting it.

[Image: sick time and the miracle cure]

Well, I admit I had a whiny moment or two when it seemed like it would never go away.

So I when my friend Kelli texted me to check in, I wrote back to say “Send miracle cure please.” And she did, in the form of this kitten photo. Ha.

I think it worked! Or at least lifted my spirits until the next day when the cold really did lift.

The verdict for my business after those days off? Not only did I not lose money, I gained a new client during that time because I have good systems in place to let things keep rolling.

I even let myself send more work than usual to my virtual assistant (VA) and it was nice to see I could delegate more. Bonus!

I feel so lucky that I have created a sustainable system even for sick days. It’s simply up to me to ALLOW it. I’m always telling my clients, “There’s  nothing to fix. It’s about allowing.” So I took my own medicine of Allowing, and it worked.

Self-employment DOES come with sick time, and it does come with help, so don’t let anyone (ahem, yourself) tell you otherwise.

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Wait, What about Chronic Illness and Fears of It?

The story above is clearly about a brief illness and how I work around it in a temporary way. I have also dealt with chronic migraines and have had to learn how to work around that too. And I know others with more serious chronic illnesses who wonder about how it could work with self-employment.

Actually many people with chronic illnesses are drawn to self-employment for the freedom and flexibility you can build in. So how does it work?

This was one of my biggest worries when considering self-employment. While I’ve been healthier in many ways due to greater happiness, I have had to deal with illness too. It still works.

In a nutshell, these principles have helped me and other self-employed people I know:

  1. You can create a business around what you need, so you can pivot when needed. For instance, choose work that can happen at any hour and isn’t as dependent on appointments.
  2. Don’t book your calendar so tight, so that you can easily reschedule appointments.
  3. Be sure to create a business that brings you joy and low stress. That can be healing, and at least much easier on your body and potentially reduce flare-ups.
  4. Self-care is job #1 when self-employed. It’s part of your job description so you get to do it when you need it.
  5. As needed, keep your mind open to working much less, and letting in help.
Picture of Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
Val Nelson | Coaching | Groups | Courses | Newsletter | LinkedIn

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